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January 03, 2022

Important Changes to the OPPI By-Law

Important Changes to the OPPI By-Law
At the recent OPPI Annual General Meeting (AGM), held virtually on October 6, 2021, the membership of OPPI voted in favour of three amendments to the Institute’s By-Law. These amendments are important for several reasons, including being more considerate of the individual circumstances and experiences of each member, and better recognition for those who have served the public interest as professional planners for their entire career. Read on to learn more about the changes, and how they impact you. 

Non-Practicing Membership
Non-Practicing membership is a category of membership that exists for those who are currently not practicing planning for gain. To be placed in Non-Practicing membership, a Full or Candidate member is required to make a request to be moved into that category, in writing to the Registrar. It is most commonly used for parental leave but may also be used for a variety of other personal or professional circumstances, including, but not limited to working in a non-planning field, returning to school, unemployment, illness or caring for an ill family member, and more.

Previously, members in this category were exempt from the Institute’s Continuous Professional Learning (CPL) requirement but Full members could not use their RPP designation while away from practice, nor vote in OPPI affairs at the AGM, or in other instances where a member vote is required.

For Full members who are experiencing unemployment and may be Non-Practicing as a result, being barred from using their designation while searching for a job may limit their ability to find employment in their field. Furthermore, the RPP designation is earned by members through their own hard work and dedication to ethical practice and should be able to use it in professional correspondence and on resumes. Similarly, we believe it is important that members, whether they are practicing planning or not, be able to vote in the affairs of their Institute.

Therefore, it was determined by OPPI Council in June 2021, and affirmed by the membership on October 6, 2021, that moving forward, Non-Practicing Full members would be permitted to use the designation RPP (Non-Practicing) and would be permitted to vote in OPPI’s affairs.

Another important component of this By-Law change is CPL exemption and ensuring members are adequately prepared to serve the public interest upon return to practice. Members are still exempt from CPL while Non-Practicing, however beginning in 2022, the exemption will last for a maximum of five years. To ensure members are prepared to serve the public interest to the best of their ability, any individual in Non-Practicing membership for more than five years (i.e., beginning in their sixth year) will be required to meet the full learning unit requirement of membership in force at that time (currently, that requirement is 18 learning units per year).[1]

As is currently the case, members returning to practice part way through the year will be required to complete a pro-rated amount of learning units to account for the number of months remaining in that year’s CPL window (e.g. if a member returned to practice on August 1, they would be required to complete 7.5 learning units).

Lifetime Membership
The October By-Law amendments also created a brand-new membership category, Lifetime, to recognize those members who have spent their entire career working in planning for the public interest.

Over the course of the pandemic, we observed a higher rate of permanent resignations by Retired members, and we felt it important to ensure that these individuals were made aware that their contributions to the profession and public interest are valued, and this membership category reflects that.

Lifetime members are automatically appointed and enjoy complimentary membership which permits them to use only the designation RPP (Lifetime), and also provides access to OPPI’s communications (e-News), its Digital Learning services, and a subscription to Y Magazine. Like Retired members, Lifetime members cannot practice planning for gain.

The general criteria for appointment to Lifetime membership is 35 cumulative years of Membership in the Candidate and/or Full categories (time spent as a Non-Practicing member does not count against this total), and three years as a Retired member.[2]

Gender Neutral Language
OPPI members also voted on October 6 to change all gender-specific language (he/him/his, she/her/hers) in the OPPI By-Law to gender neutral language (they/them/theirs). This change neither alters the intent nor the interpretation of the By-Law.

In many other professions and similar governing documents, the use of gender-specific language is considered outmoded, and its use excludes those who do not identify as exclusively male or female. In order to ensure that non-gender-conforming people see themselves better represented in their profession, it is the opinion of OPPI Council that language in our By-Law be as inclusive as possible.

These important changes will begin to take effect very soon. Those who are eligible for Lifetime membership will be invited once the 2022 renewal cycle commences, while a new version of the By-Law containing the remainder of the changes will be effective and live on the OPPI website on January 1, 2022.
As time goes on, the need to amend the By-Law presents itself and it is OPPI’s belief that this slate of changes enhances the document and its relevance for members of the Institute. 

If you have any questions on these changes to the By-Law, you are encouraged to contact the OPPI Registrar.
[1] OPPI acknowledges that extenuating circumstances exist which may preclude members from undertaking CPL while not practicing planning, and the Registrar has the authority to grant exemptions to the rule mandating Non-Practicing members to participate in CPL for their sixth and subsequent years in this membership category. 
[2] OPPI reserves the right to rescind Lifetime membership from any individual for any reason, up to and including evidence suggesting the member is practicing for gain, severe misconduct allegations, criminal convictions, etc.

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